Alexandria, Virginia, Presbyterian Meeting House
I’m stepping where George Washington actually stepped as he went into this building to dedicate a national day of prayer and fasting that he had proclaimed. The French were threatening. And Washington entered this church to ask God’s protection for the infant country.
Obviously Washington was unafraid to mix religion and politics, for here he was in church asking God’s blessing on the event.
How far we’ve strayed from the original Founding Father’s intent. They all believed in a Creator, a reachable Supreme Being–so much so that their writings are filled with allusions to Him–so much so that our first president would actually lead the nation for a complete day of prayer and fasting.
Prayer is a communication to God where we fragile finite beings may grasp the invisible, spiritual, and heavenly things. And fasting is an act where we let go of our most precious and pressing fleshly desires–that of savoring delicious foods. And both are done believing God will see and be pleased.
Where in the world did Washington get this idea to fast and pray? Whatever possessed him to presume to put fasting and praying on the people? He read it in the greatest bestseller of all time, the Holy Bible. He knew its precepts were pristine and pure, its ways effective, and in dire times, as did the ancient Hebrew prophets and apostles, he would pray and fast for divine protection, too.
210 years ago, secular humanism did not rear its egotistical head here in Alexandria. Agnosticism found no place in the faces of this young country. No atheists or other “dark designing knaves” were there to prevent humility from taking the stage for a needy nation. No cynic sneered at a humble and greatful people.
Only the giving of thanks was heard on these very steps that George Washington trod on May 9, 1798.